Around the Hockey Hemisphere with Nate Franks

May 07, 2014, 2:54 p.m. (ET)

To give a special shout out to Nate Franks, USA Field Hockey's Performance Analyst, 
on his birthday, we're sharing an article from the 2013 Fall issue of  
FHLife magazine 
that details Nate's 2013 travel schedule and his myriad of vital 
responsibilities for the U.S. Women's National Team.
Happy birthday, Nate! We appreciate all you do. 

Around the Hockey Hemisphere in 65 Days

For the frequent jetsetter, it’s a natural, well-practiced routine. Despite the clumsy clutter of airport chaos, their speed and methodical movement through the security line is an art form maybe even worthy of an Olympic event. 

Remove shoes. 
Secure all liquids in a plastic bag. 
Place electronics in a separate bin. 
Kindly explain your three MacBook Pros, iPad, Kindle and three portable external hard drives to Transportation Security Admissions. 

USA Field Hockey’s Nate Franks doesn’t travel comparatively light when it comes to his job and as a result is politely pulled from security to review his myriad of devices - a question he is presented with 80 percent of the time he travels. And in the name of field hockey, Franks has logged an astounding 57,966 flight miles from June 15 to August 18 and marched through 47 time zones. 

As the performance analyst for USA Field Hockey, Franks films every game of every tournament he attends. While filming he codes the key events of the match using SportsCode, premier coaching software designed for teams to evaluate film and data, on a Macbook Pro.

“Normally people who don’t understand what I do describe me as the video guy but in reality I’m more of a chief scout,” said Franks. “After matches, I go back through the game, pull out the key moments and trends that I’ve identified throughout the match and put those into a format that the players and coaches can easily digest so that they don’t have to watch every minute of every game themselves.”  

Franks started the summer with the Women’s National Team at Rutgers University for their pre-World League 3 training camp. On June 15th he flew to London with the Women’s National Team for World League 3 (June 15-July 1) and then to Melbourne, Australia with the Men’s National Team for a 6-match series against the Victoria Vikings Australian Hockey League team and the State Institutes and Academies of Sport (SIS/SAS) team (July 2-July 15). Next on tap for Franks was Holland/Germany for the Junior World Cup with the Women’s U-21 National Team (July 17-August 5). He concluded his tour around the globe with the Men’s National Team test against Chile in San Diego (August 6) and the Men’s Pan Am Cup (August 7-18)

Yes, feeling jetlagged just from reading Franks’ summer flight itinerary is completely understandable. 

No matter his latitude and longitude coordinates, Franks begins days on tour rising around 6:30 a. m. and throwing down a quick swig of hotel coffee before heading to the pitch. 

“Whether it’s a three-, four- or six-game-a-day tournament, I spend the entire day at the ground in the video tower filming and coding the matches,” said Franks. “The only break in the day comes when the US Team plays and instead of just filming and coding, I put on a headset and contribute as an additional assistant coach, radioing in what I see from my angle and any additional information I see in the video.”

At the conclusion of each day Franks meets with the head coach on tour who usually totes food and caffeine when he rolls through the hotel doors. Franks still has another couple of hours of work to make sure he has scouting reports ready for all of Team USA’s possible opponents moving forward.

From his position nestled in a comfy steel video tower this summer, Franks has collected a scrapbook of treasured moments while traveling around the hockey hemisphere. From beating Italy in the last game at World League Round 3 placing the Women’s National Team in position to make the World Cup to earning a come-from-behind victory for the Men’s National Team over Mexico at the Pan Am Cup, Franks keeps moments like these close. 

In his experience of roaming from country to country, Franks passes along a small but beneficial tip of the trade to make life overseas a little more pleasant. 

“The single most important thing to learn is how to say thank you in the local language,” said Franks. “Almost everywhere I’ve gone with the US Teams, English is ubiquitous, but being able to express your appreciation to the German who makes sure to get you on the first shuttle from the ground or to the Brazilian who serves you lunch for 10 days out of 13 – that goes a long way to ensuring that the locals will continue to look out for you and your team.”

During his extensive summer field hockey travel schedule, he has torn through 10 editions of the Economist cover to cover on his Kindle as well as 10 books (the best of which were Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Broken Harbor by Tana French) and devoured more than 80 games of field hockey this summer including 24 Team USA test matches. Although he doesn’t sport the red and white stripes of the infamous meanderer Waldo, one can still wonder aloud, “Where in the world is Nate Franks now?”